DARPA Seeks Science-Fictional Materials

DARPA's Materials with Controlled Microstructural Architecture (MCMA) program is seeking ways to control and engineer materials at a fundamental level. If possible, DARPA would like to control the microstructure of materials right down to the micron level.


(DARPA seeks science fictional material)

Control at the microstructure level allows researchers to develop materials with greatly enhanced properties. For instance, as demonstrated in the video below, DARPA was able to construct a material so light that it can rest atop a bubble. MCMA researchers are working toward the goal of developing a material that is as strong as steel, but as light as a plastic. To do so, they are exploring the full range of properties that can be manifested as functions of truss design and weight in a material’s microstructure.

DARPA has also developed lightweight materials that can absorb energy without failing, or breaking. As shown in the following video — previously released in conjunction with a journal article on ultralight metallic microlattices — the nickel microtruss structure can achieve a 40% strain level without collapsing; in fact, it fully recovers its form. DARPA is exploring how much strength and energy absorption can be combined in the same material without damaging it.

The ultimate objective of the MCMA program is to be able to develop materials in the future with properties tailored to meet specific mission requirements.


(DARPA seeks science fictional materials)

Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs recall harbenite, an amazing ultralight metal, from his 1929 book Tarzan at the Earth's Core:

...Erich von Harben is something of a scientist and explorer himself, and the last time that I saw him he had just returned from a second expedition into the Wiramwazi Mountains, where he told me that he had discovered a lake-dwelling tribe using canoes made of a metal that was apparently as light as cork and stronger than steel. He brought some samples of the metal back with him..."

"...It is not my intention to weary you with a recital of the details of the organization and equipment of the Pellucidarian expedition, although that portion of it which relates to the search for and discovery of the native mine containing the remarkable metal now known as Harbenite, filled as it was with adventure and excitement, is well worth a volume by itself."

Another way to look at it is that DARPA is trying to create science-fictional materials. DARPA program engineers are encouraged to check out these science fictional materials:

  • Fanmetal
    High tensile strength material; used in collapsible structures (from Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune).
  • Glassite
    A strong, transparent material (from the 1930 novel Brigands of the Moon by Ray Cummings.
  • Helio-Beryllium
    Unusual alloy combines a metal and a gas (from Robert H. Wilson's 1931 story Out Around Rigel)
  • Steelonium
    Steel that did not rust or corrode (from Hugo Gernsback's 1911 novel Ralph 124c 41 +).
Via Kurzweil AI.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/15/2012)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Material ")

Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme. - Frank Herbert, 1965.

Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'- J.G. Ballard, 1962.

3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'

Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'

Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.

Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.

Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.

Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...

Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'

MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.

Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'

Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!

China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.

Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.